Giles Ridout of Virginia or John Ridout of Sherborne (b.1699)?

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people in the US who descend from a chap called Giles Ridout of Virginia. Giles, reputedly a sailor, boarded HM Ship Ludlow Castle which left Kent (Deal) on the 15th October 1728 and docked at Virginia on Sunday the 27th March 1729. The ship had been commissioned for secret service, whatever that implied.

According to what I have been told, once in Virginia Giles married a lady called Frances in ~1730 and they had children: Mary (bn. 20th May 1732, bp. 18th Jun), William (bn. 10th Jul 1740, bp. 31st Aug) and Giles Ridout (bn. 8th Feb 1744, bp. 13th Mar 1744, bur. Sep 1744) (York County Parish Records). Giles & Frances moved with their family to Dinwiddie County in about 1745, said to be at about the time of son John’s birth, although there is no formal record for this boy as far as I know. Giles and his wife died before 1752,  and their children, still minors, were allegedly taken by the County Court to be raised.

These descendants of Giles Ridout of Virginia generally believe their earliest ancestor to be Giles Ridout of Henstridge, Somerset (1600-~1646) and, indeed, as my blog post shows, there is a well documented line from him down to Giles (bn. 1699) in London and it is the latter that some people believe to have emigrated in 1728 (for which purpose I have discovered that he would have had to abandon his wife Hannah and their children Giles and Maria, which I think was unlikely to be true).

As some readers may know, a few years ago I started a Rid(e)out one name yDNA study in an attempt to ‘fit’ some branches of Ridouts and Rideouts into one or more larger trees. Two of the early project members descend from John Ridout (b.1745), son of Giles; their yDNA sequences shared 36/37 STRs (markers) and one of the men also matched identically to three members of the project shown, genetically and on paper, to descend from George Ridout (b.1701) of Sherborne. I have written a good deal about George, son of Christopher Ridout of Sherborne (1669-1743) miller and baker, great great grandson of William Rydowte of Hyle (1554-1621), my x10 great grandfather.

Recently a new chap joined our FTDNA project and he has a reasonably well documented descent from David Ridout; he also has an identical yDNA sequence to the Sherborne Ridouts and so matches one of the other two descendants of Giles of Virginia. So all three men descend, down different lines, from John of Dinwiddie; this shows that the ‘odd man out’ must have one common mutation in his own line, without which he too would match the Sherborne Ridouts.

FTDNA results show that when two men have an identical match of 37/37 markers the probability of their having a common ancestor about four generations back is 83%. However, if a paper trail shows that these two men cannot be that closely related then the probability is that their common ancestor being within eight generations is a massive 97%. To give a practical example: suppose that Giles the Virginian was actually a son of Christopher Ridout, and hence a brother of George Ridout, he is alive about eight generations or less from these three FTDNA members. One of the men pointed out to me that, since there is no history of a man named Giles Ridout in my Sherborne family, Giles probably didn’t come from Sherborne. My personal feeling is that the DNA results suggest otherwise but I realise that I had to at least try and find some evidence of a man called Giles Ridout living in the appropriate time frame as a member of the known Sherborne branch; as my family is so well documented the mission seemed impossible.

I’ve always been aware that there was another man who left England to start a new life in America; we know very little about him but time wise he who would be an ideal candidate for Giles… on the 4th July 1699 a boy named John was baptised in Sherborne Abbey, the firstborn son of Christopher Ridout by his wife Mary Glover. Unlike his brother George, about whom so much has been written, all I know about John is that he’d ‘sailed to America as a consequence of a disappointment in love’, had married there and hadn’t returned. Could he actually have been called Giles? Had there been an error in the parish register entry? Did he change his name from John to Giles? Interesting theories perhaps but I knew that I’d have to do better than that if I was to convince anyone to look elsewhere for their roots! In the event, the strongest evidence to date came from an unexpected source…

John Ridout’s nephew, also John (bn. 1730) was George Ridout the baker’s son. A clever young chap, John was chosen in 1753 to be secretary to the newly appointed governor of Maryland, Horatio Sharpe; the 23yr old student was recommended by Horatio’s brother Gregory Sharpe who’d been John’s tutor at Oxford University. [Horatio and John sailed together to Maryland, arriving in August 1753. Eventually, through a quirk of fate John inherited Sharpe’s Whitehall estate in Annapolis and became the eleventh wealthiest man in Maryland]. The ‘Oxford Alumni 1500-1886’ records:

‘Ridout, John s. George of Sherborne, Dorset pleb. Corpus Christi Coll. matric. 9 March 1748/49 aged 18. BA 1753.’

John also attended Sherborne School [he received a bursary at Oxford from Dr Nathaniel Highmore which was only granted to boys on the recommendation of the governors of Sherborne School] and would have entered at about the age of 10 but there is no record of him in my volume  of The Sherborne (School) Register (2nd ed.), published 1900)…

…and then there was an entirely, unbelievably timely surprise a couple of days ago… I was looking at a pile of papers that I’d been given by a fellow researcher; he did not belong to the Sherborne Ridout family and therefore would not have seen the significance of what he’d recorded. Many years ago he’d made a transcription of Ridout entries from the The Sherborne Register (4th ed.), published in 1950; this edition alone includes details of pupils who did not appear in what had survived of the School’s registers but had, according to a long standing tradition at Sherborne, inscribed their names and year of entry to the school on the stonework and ancient wood panelling of the former school room; such entries were marked in the book with an asterisk. The author had taken it on himself to record all of these boys’ names, which must have been a labour of love since there are many hundreds of carvings on the walls of this fairly large old room. Each entry in the book was appended with what was known of the subject at the time. There was one entry for 1740 which I think provides a clue to our mysterious Giles:

* ‘1740. John Giles Ridout, perhaps son of George Ridout, baker, of Butcher’s Row, near the Conduit, Sherborne; b.1730; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculated 22 November 1748, aged 18; BA 1753’.

So George’s son John, for whatever reason, called himself John Giles. Why? Like Giles, John emigrated to America to start a new life; leaving England for Maryland not long after Giles had died in neighbouring Virginia. John was born the year after Giles had emigrated, but neither boy nor man was christened with a middle name Giles – why would either of them assume a middle name at all? Oddly enough, in 1757 George and his second wife had a son and christened him John Gibbs Ridout, the only one of George’s ten children to officially be given a middle name at all! So, was George’s brother, John Ridout, actually known in the family as John Giles too? When he started off for his new life in America did he drop his first name in favour of a middle name, a common practice even today? I can’t prove it but at least I can say in all honesty that I HAVE found a man in the Sherborne family who used the named Giles – and I think that his uncle did too.

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Exciting genealogical news… two families linked by DNA?

Do you believe that the dear departed can guide us from beyond? Well I don’t, but I came very close yesterday; I’ll explain, but first I need to tell you the background to this story…

Back in 2004, as I have probably mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I met, for the first time, two gentlemen; we shared a day trip, touring around some Dorset villages. The two men were old friends – Orlando Ridout IV, a very distant cousin of mine from Maryland and the late William (Bill) Ridout of Berkhamsted; their lifelong genealogical mission was to prove that they were related thereby sharing with me our common ancestor, William Ridowte (1554-1621) and his wife Agnetha (née Barnard). Sadly, once yDNA testing had entered the public arena, it transpired that a non-paternal event somewhere in Bill’s line meant that he didn’t match Orlando genetically and thus their research was unfulfilled.

When Bill died he generously gifted his entire collection of manuscripts, transcriptions, wills and trees to the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society. Such was the enormity of the documentation that this, together with a not inconsiderable wealth of other Ridout material led to the Society appointing me as their Ridout Archivist. As a result of my new ‘duties’ I brought a lot of files home with me to Wales after an earlier visit to Sherborne this year. Tomorrow I am returning these files but had already decided to keep one back because I wished to update and correct several errors in the accompanying Gedcom. The file in question just happened, by pure coincidence, to belong to Bill Ridout whose earliest ancestor was recorded simply as: ‘Robert Ridout of Holnest, died 1716 in Minterne Magna. Married Ratchell.’

Another coincidence was that yesterday one of the members of my Ridout yDNA project had emailed me and asked me to interpret a recent result that he’d had. His enquiry had caused me, for the first time in several months, to look at the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) website where both our results are posted. Whilst I was online anyway I thought I might as well look at my own matches, which I do infrequently; being a female I obviously can’t submit a sample to the yDNA study but had my own autosomal DNA tested out of curiosity. In the years that my FTDNA results have been posted I’d only ever matched a couple of members of my own family which was of little value in forging new genealogical pathways! To be honest I am pretty certain that my lineage back to William Ridowte is as accurate as I can make it, bearing in mind that I’ve nothing but my own research on which to base this hypothesis. One such assumption is that my x8 grandfather was John Ridout (1631-1672), a yeoman farmer of Sherborne, and his wife Alice (née Toogood); the  couple had several children in the mid 1660s.

Back to yesterday… I looked at my atDNA results and, as I have done before, searched for anyone who had a common link to me and also had ‘Ridouts’ in their family  tree. I was very surprised, to say the least, to find a ‘hit’ that I’d never seen before, to a lady whose paper trail led her back to Robert Ridout, born about 1660/1 and his wife Ratchell – the couple who were undoubtedly Bill’s ancestors and the first names on the paperwork that I decided to keep back from taking back to the Centre tomorrow! This finding was so exciting that this morning I absentmindedly tried to shampoo my hair with shower gel 🙂

There is a very strong possibility that Robert was a son of my ancestors John and Alice and, indeed, there was an appropriate baptism in Sherborne – but I need to do more thorough research on this. The lady is calculated by FTDNA to be related to me, maybe even as close as fourth cousin. If this were true then this would be the first DNA connection I’ve ever made with another branch of my Sherborne Ridout family since I started studying my family history back in 2004! Not only that but, if the connection is genuine, I will have finally proved that Bill and Orlando were in indeed distant cousins as they had always aspired to be… and that would be the best result of all.

UPDATE… It seems that I became excited rather precipitously about the above as it turns out that, whilst my atDNA match and I may well share Ridout connections, we’re not anywhere near as closely related as we first thought. We share stretches of DNA on two chromosomes, one of which is the X-chromosome. Since females receive one X-chromosome from their mother and one from their father (who received it from his mother), if they share a stretch of X-chromosome it is not possible for the two women to sharing DNA from their male ancestor. This means, amazingly, that although we may share a Ridout paper trail (if we can find the common link) we are undoubtedly connected through a different common family name and, to find that name, we would have to both know several generations of womenfolk in our trees in order to compare them. As they say, watch this space!

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